Retail Food Interests Allege Price Fixing in Egg Market
A coalition of food wholesalers and retailers has filed an antitrust lawsuit in a Kansas state court against egg producers and industry trade groups alleging that, by reducing the number of hens, increasing egg exports and decreasing hen lifecycles, the defendants conspired to manipulate egg prices, which have more than doubled in recent years. Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. v. United Egg Producers, No. 10 2181 (Kan. Dist. Ct., Wyandotte Cty., filed December 23, 2010). Similar class-action lawsuits nationwide were consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings in a Pennsylvania federal court; the Kansas plaintiffs apparently opted out of class to file their own claims.
The petition, alleging violations of the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act, discusses the U.S. Department of Justice investigation into industry practices and relies on some documents produced during the MDL proceedings. Several settlements have apparently been reached in the MDL, and one of the defendants apparently agreed to produce evidence of the purported conspiracy. The plaintiffs seek a declaration that the defendants violated Kansas law, treble damages, interest, attorney’s fees, and costs. See The Kansas City Star, January 12, 2011.